With last week’s results from Newspoll and Essential Research added to the mix, the BludgerTrack poll aggregate records a solid shift back to the Coalition after a recent Labor blowout, converting into a 0.6% increase on two-party preferred and four on the seat projection. The Coalition is up even more on the primary vote, although this is basically at the expense of One Nation (see the sidebar for full results). Furthermore, The Australian published the Newspoll quarterly state breakdowns for October to December this week, which is the last polling data we will get until well into January, and this too has been added to the mix.
I’ve been noting in recent weeks that BludgerTrack’s readings for Western Australia and especially Queensland were looking off beam, and anticipated that the long-awaited addition of Newspoll data would ameliorate this. However, the Newspoll result backed up the picture of a huge swing to Labor in Queensland, of 9%, resulting in a two-party lead of 55-45. Labor’s lead in Queensland has nonetheless narrowed in BludgerTrack this week, reducing their projected seat gain from an entirely implausible 16 seats to a still rather unlikely 11, but this is as much to do with more normal-looking numbers from Essential over the past two weeks than Newspoll.
A very likely problem here is that both Newspoll and BludgerTrack are assuming preferences will behave as they did in 2016, which means a roughly even split of preferences from One Nation. The Queensland state election result suggests the support One Nation has built since comes largely from former Coalition voters, resulting in a stronger flow of preferences to them – of about 65%, in the case of the state election. In the new year, I will begin calculating preferences by splitting the difference between 2016 election flows and a trend measure of respondent-allocated preferences (which have been leaning too far the other way). This will result in more conservative readings of Labor’s two-party support.
In addition to the five seat shift to the Coalition in Queensland, BludgerTrack has the Coalition up a seat in New South Wales – but down two in Western Australia, where the Newspoll numbers (again with some help from a more normal-looking result from Essential Research) have taken the wind out of an outlier result from the state in the Ipsos poll a fortnight ago.
The leadership rating trends have been updated with the latest Newspoll results, producing a slight drop in both leaders’ net approval ratings. However, this too suffers a deficiency to which I will make an overdue correction in the new year, namely that no account is made for the idiosyncrasies of particular pollsters – such as lower approval and higher disapproval ratings from Newspoll, and lower uncommitted ratings from Ipsos. This means changes from week to week often reflect the specific pollsters that have published results, as much as meaningful change in the numbers.